“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” –Coco Chanel
“Everyone is different and that really is what makes everyone the same.” –Unknown
For the longest time, in fact, ever since I can consciously remember, I have felt as if I’ve been carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Whenever I’m faced with the potential opportunity to open myself up entirely to people, I freak out, and almost automatically shut down.
My biggest, most painful aspect of living with spina bifida is really a self-inflicted complex. I can’t say that this particular aspect of having spina bifida has caused me actual physical pain. But it alone has had the ability to affect almost every single interaction I’ve had with other humans. And that, in and of itself, is far more painful than any surgery I’ve had.
That’s a pretty heavy burden to carry at 25 years old. It’s certainly a burden I’ve sought time and again to shed, but with no luck.
As part of the “bill of goods” sold to me when I was born with spina bifida, I was also born with clubbed feet. This is what the medical community, and society, really, likes to call a “deformity.” But I oppose this term wholeheartedly, as it not only goes against the grain of treating people equally (as does the term “disabled,” for that matter), it also implies that in making a person that way, there was some grievous mistake on God’s part.
There are ZERO mistakes in God’s design. There are only mistakes in the human thought process.
The latter, and not the former, is the cause of all my suffering. It is not that somehow I’m imperfect (if any human can presume to call themselves perfect!), but rather that everything in the mass media, in society, tells me that I’m not perfect.
Believe me, if I possess any imperfection, it is not that I am physically flawed, but rather that for the past 25 years, I have opted to buy into the warped notion that I am flawed.
But who could blame me after those awful early school years of enduring idiotic queries such as “what’s wrong with your legs?” “Why, nothing, thank you. What’s wrong with your sense of self-preservation?” (Of course, that last quote is what I wish I’d told people!)
Still, I am perfect and beautiful in the eyes of God.
Through my own eyes, I’ve often viewed myself as a “freak,” “ugly,” “unattractive.” And yet, as I type these words, I am stung by the full impact of my own rejection; the one person who I should be able to rely on to love me, often loathes me. Is there any betrayal worse than a person who hates him or herself?
Both my feet were “corrected” (yes, the quotes are necessary!) surgically sometime after I was born, but my right foot never fully straightened out. I had surgery in my early teens to release the tendons in my right foot, straightening it a little further. I had one other surgery in high school to remove a small bone in my right foot when a pressure sore under it wouldn’t heal.
But it has been of no use. Yes, my walk is no doubt better because of these procedures, but I still feel like screaming bloody murder when I walk into– no, am dragged into— a shoe store. I always have trouble finding shoes that will fit both feet perfectly, and I can’t help but cringe whenever I walk past the rows of what I call “Sex-and-the-City-shoes.” I hate them. (While we’re on the subject, when did it become a cardinal rule of shoe retail stores to never carry any Women’s size smaller than 5!? Just what are they feeding girls nowadays? Because of this, I’m often forced to peruse the girls’ shoes, but even that section seems taken over by Carrie Bradshaw-esque fashions.)
Besides, I absolutely hate removing my shoes in public. They’re usually some type of sneaker or boot, but are pretty good at disguising my foot size. That being said, I’ve obviously had to grow accustomed to this at airports. Then again, nobody is looking at your feet at an airport!
To me, the shame I feel over this part of me I can’t change has even led me to believe I will never find a loving, accepting romantic partner. But even that concern pales in comparison to the fear I have of facing rejection from my dearest friends. It may sound unreasonable, but imagine someone with an eating disorder. As often as you might try to tell that person how thin and attractive they are, they can’t think logically. Anybody who’s ever had an inferiority complex can attest to that.
So yes, here I am all, and I was born with clubbed feet. But, I am not, nor have I ever been, deformed. For as a human being, I was made in the image and likeness of God, so I am of the same mold.
Besides, we are all different, every single one of us. So in that, we are all the same.
Thank you so much for the love and support you have given me thus far.
P.S. I’m not fishing for compliments here; I’m just sayin.’ Your understanding and acceptance is all that I’m asking for.
© 2011, Laurita. All rights reserved.